The Future of the Nintendo Switch
By Eric Ashley (@flapjackashley)
The Nintendo Switch has been out on the market for just a little over a month, and it has seen some pretty good sales success. It is the fastest selling Nintendo console in the company’s history in its first two days on sale – even faster than the phenomenon that was the Nintendo Wii – selling completely out of over two million units worldwide. A month later, it’s still extremely hard to find on shelves as stock sells out almost as instantly as they are put out. All signs indicate that the early buzz of this hybrid home console/handheld portable – plus the contender for Game of the Year, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – will make it more successful than the Wii U, which will end up being Nintendo’s lowest selling home console ever.
So far, the launch lineup has left something to be desired. Aside from Zelda, there has been little else to get excited about: the quirky 1-2-Switch is a good game for parties, but little else, Bomberman R suffers from an extremely high price, and then there’s Just Dance 2017. The download-only game Snipperclips is a real charmer, but is also best played as a multiplayer experience. The eShop is pretty barren after four weeks, with few indie standouts such as Snake Pass left to excite users – and that game is not an exclusive.
This month brings a few more high profile titles, ranging from catching up to other consoles (Jackbox Party Pack Volume 3 debuts next week), to old standbys (Puyo Puyo Tetris) and an enhanced port of the best selling Wii U game (Mario Kart 8 Deluxe). After that? We have undated releases like the motion-control-fest ARMS and semi-sequel Splatoon 2. Other games and ports like FIFA 18 and NBA 2K18 (the first of these franchises on a Nintendo home console since 2012) and top selling adventure game Skyrim to pad out the schedule until the holidays when Super Mario Odyssey is unleashed – which will surely be a huge system seller. It represents Mario’s first true open world fully 3D game since Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine. And it looks like a masterpiece… and it will, ironically, be the Switch’s first major exclusive game.
The Switch is a great system. It’s concept, the aforementioned home/portable hybrid is a novel concept. Being able to play an HD console-quality Mario Kart at home, and then take it with you and play it with detachable controllers in multiplayer is just one example of how this system is truly a “game changer”. Can’t get enough of Skyrim? Take it with you in the car (if you’re a passenger, of course!) or plane and pick up right where you left off at home. Seriously. Think about it. It is an amazing concept and the big hook of the console, hence the name: Switch and Play from home to on the go, and back again.
Even though the Switch is out and in people’s homes, there are still a lot of unanswered questions and holes that need to be filled. We still don’t know the pricing structure for their upcoming paid online service. There is no Virtual Console yet on the eShop. There isn’t even a way to communicate with other friends whom you see are online – no chat, no messaging, no nothing. I guess Nintendo wants us to try smoke signals.
This is what I would suggest Nintendo do. They need to have a huge blowout at E3 this year. Since 2013, they have opted to go the pretaped streaming route as opposed to a live stage show, and this year, I’d say they need to do one. They need to give us some answers on those holes I mentioned in the above paragraph. Throwing us a surprise bone such as confirmation of the long rumored GameCube Virtual Console or a release of Earthbound-sequel Mother 3 would be outstanding. Tell us that you are finally moving into the year 2012 and give us an option to have Cloud game saves. But what I really want are some games. And a lot of them.
Nintendo has a huge catalog of amazing franchises – many of which never appeared in legit form on the Wii U. Give us a true Animal Crossing. Give us a real Metroid. Give us a real Star Fox. Announce an upgraded port of Super Smash Bros with new characters (it’s not realistic to think an all-new title could be produced so soon). Let us have Pikmin 4, which was said to be “near completion” a year ago. Revive forgotten franchises like Eternal Darkness, Wave Race or Advance Wars. Let us have a real sequel to Super Mario RPG, or Paper Mario: Thousand Year Door. Shock us with not only an official Mother 3 release, but tell us a Mother 4 is on the way. Tell us that third parties are back on board with timely Switch versions of games like Kingdom Hearts, Call of Duty, Battlefield and more — no matter your opinion of some of those games, having them on the Switch would make it seem like it is a major player with the PS4 and Xbox One. Give us a date for a new Pokemon (Pokemon Stars? Something all new?) – which will be the first mainline game of the franchise on a home console. I guarantee you, if Nintendo came out and mic-dropped even half of what I mentioned here, that would be enough to send its fans into a mouth watering frenzy, and would even go a long ways to win back former fans who left the during the Wii U era.
I certainly don’t expect all of this stuff to happen in the next eight months, and I don’t think fans expect them, either. We just need to know they are coming. In a post-Zelda World, the Nintendo Switch is on the cusp of some really big things. And I hope Nintendo knows it and takes the momentum and runs with it. We Nintendo fans suffered through the last year of the Wii and all four lacking years of the Wii U. The Switch has all the elements to be a success – I just hope the cooks are ready to make the ingredients into a masterpiece.